It’s Getting a Lot Harder to Stream Western TV Shows in ChinaPosted: 09/4/2014 6:45 pm
After yanking four popular American TV series – The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, NCIS and The Practice - from China’s video-streaming websites in April, the country is now set to put even tighter controls on foreign TV shows available on the Internet, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the new policy.
The new policy would allow Chinese media regulators to limit the number of foreign TV shows to no more than 30 percent of content on China’s video-streaming websites such as Sohu, Youku, Tudou and Iqiyi. It did not say whether the 30 percent cap referred to the number of TV shows or TV episodes.
China’s media regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said that foreign TV shows currently account for more than 50 percent of TV content on Youkou and Tudou alone.
An executive at one of the Chinese video-steaming websites told the newspaper that the regulating agency has been collecting data about foreign TV shows from the websites for quite a while to study the new policy.
The motives behind the new regulation aren’t immediately clear, but executives at some of the websites told the Wall Street Journal that the cap would help cool the bidding for licensing foreign TV shows. Last year, licensing foreign and domestic shows cost the websites RMB 4.2 billion ($683 million), up from RMB 3.2 billion in 2012 and RMB 300 million in 2007, according to figures released by EntGroup.
Before the popular comedy sitcom The Big Bang Theory was pulled from Sohu TV, it was watched by 120 million viewers a month over 1.4 billion times, roughly around the country’s total population.
While China’s own state television CCTV was broadcasting Game of Thrones, a sexually graphic TV show, and even Walking Dead, filled with violent and bloody scenes survived the censorship, the choice to ban those four American TV shows in particular was baffling to a lot of viewers.
The country’s media regulator vaguely explained that the four shows may have violated Clause 16 of the country’s online broadcasting rules, which “prohibits pornography, violence, and content that violates China’s constitution, endangers the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, provokes troubles in society, promotes illegal religion and triggers ethnic hatred,” the New Yorker wrote.
There were also rumors that the reason The Big Bang Theory was banned was because CCTV is looking to broadcast the show on Channel 8 after the translation work is done, Beijing News reported.
We don’t know which of your favourite foreign TV shows will be next in line to be axed, but one thing is clear: sooner or later, the country’s media regulator is going to get them.